|Vol. 2, No. 2||Page 11||February 2000|
Sign Broke: Message Inside
Everywhere you look there are signs. Signs advertise products or services to buy. They encourage consumers to visit various places of business. Some signs give messages that we should apply to our lives. One such sign caught my attention.
As I drove to work one day, I noticed a marquee type sign outside a church building. The words read, “Sign broke, message inside.” The sign was probably intended to encourage its readers to attend the worship service for a spiritual message instead of just reading them on similar signs. However, a better biblical application is available.
Consider for a moment the words of Jesus in Matthew 5:14-16.
Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hid. Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.
The message in these verses is clear. Christians are to show their religion by their lives. Just as a candle hidden under a basket can give you no light by which to keep from bumping into things in the dark, neither can one’s Christianity, carefully hidden behind closed doors, bring others to Christ. Many verses throughout the Bible tell us to be examples to those around us and to tell others about Christ’s power to save. Let’s look at some of these verses.
In Genesis chapters Six and Seven, we read about Noah building an ark. Verse Three of Chapter Six tells us one hundred twenty years passed between the time Noah was told of the impending flood and the actual event. Second Peter Two, Verse Five tells us Noah was a “preacher of righteousness.” Noah did not hide God’s message inside but told all who would listen.
Deuteronomy 6:7 gave instructions to the Israelites about teaching their children. “And thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sitest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up.” Parents were instructed to be constantly telling their children about God. The message was not reserved for when the congregation assembled to worship, but was to be a part of common, every day life.
The book of Esther tells of a young Jewish lady who became queen. For a time she kept her nationality a secret. Eventually, she had to share her secret in order to save her people from massacre. It was time to let the light of God’s care and protection shine to the wicked men who would do God’s people harm.
Several examples of men as shining lights come to mind in the New Testament as well. The first chapter of the Book of John speaks of the one who was sent to prepare the way for Christ. Speaking of John, verse eight reads, “He was not that Light, but was sent to bear witness of that Light.” John did not let the ridicule of the Pharisees distract him from letting his light shine and showing the coming of the Savior.
The apostles also repeatedly let their light shine. Acts 5:28-29 reads,
“Saying, Did not we straitly command you that ye should not teach in this name? and, behold, ye have filled Jerusalem with your doctrine, and intend to bring this man’s blood upon us. Then Peter and the other apostles answered and said, We ought to obey God rather than men.”
These men did not hide their love of God and his Word under any basket. They could very easily have used the orders of the high priest as an excuse not to preach any more. Instead, they reminded the Jewish council that God had ultimate authority and not the Jewish leaders. The apostles chose to follow the words of the highest ruler.
In 2 Corinthians 11:24-28, the apostle Paul wrote of all the things he had suffered for Christ. Among other things, Paul had been beaten, stoned and imprisoned numerous times. Still, he kept preaching about Christ. Paul did not allow things of this world to hinder the shinning of his light to the lost.
Christ instructed the people he taught to be examples to those in the world. In Matthew 7:17-23, Christ instructed the disciples about false teachers. He said, “Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them” (verse 20). He continued,
“Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity” (verses 21-23).
If the false teachers and sinners of the world are known by their fruits, the reverse is also true; faithful Christians are also known by their fruits. Christ has commanded us to show our faith to others, not hide it inside ourselves. If we fail to show our lights, he will say to us at judgment, “I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.”
Christians can show their lights in many ways. When we teach others in fulfillment of Mark 16:15, we are not hiding our light. When we faithfully attend worship services (Hebrews 10:25), study God’s Word (2 Timothy 2:15) and live a faithful life of service to Christ (Revelation 2:10), we are showing our light to the world instead of hiding it under a basket. Our message to the world is Christ and his plan for our salvation. Let us not be like a broken sign with the message inside. Let us do all we can to “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven” (Matthew 5:16).